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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Restoration Paint Work Complete

After two months Caruso's emailed to say the car was ready so I made arrangements to pick it up yesterday. Overall the vehicle looked good, though I did catch a small drip in the clear under the passenger door handle and noticed the door handle trim on that side was not installed correctly. The drip in the clear is sufficiently small and not in an obvious location so I decided not to do anything about that, and I have replaced the door handle trims enough times to know why the installation error occurred, how easy it is to make the error, and how easy it would be to fix myself. So in the interest of getting on the road I accepted the car as is.

My recent interest in resins / catalysts caused me to ask Carl (the shop manager) a few questions about the clear. I first wanted to know the extent to which the clear needs to be sanded and polished following application. He said that the urethane is largely self leveling, but it can develop a texture depending on how it's sprayed. Spray at the wrong distance or angle and what I can only translate as a kind of stippled or "golf ball" effect can occur which must be sanded down. When I asked whether they used a DA for this he said said they block it and use progressively finer abrasives, starting in some cases with 1500 grit and progressing to 5000 grit for the final detail. He added that they can't use a DA for sanding because it produces half-moon artifacts which are very noticeable and difficult to subsequently remove.

I then asked how thick the clear was and how many coats they apply. He said that they apply clear in three coats -- the initial coat is somewhat light, while the two subsequent coats are "medium, not heavy". He added that they wait some time between coats (typically 20 minutes) because the prior coat must be cured to an extent (let's call it "firm and tacky"). If the painter attempted to walk around the car applying coat after coat without delay the clear would likely sag or "sheet" right off the body panels under its own weight. All told, their aim is to provide about 5 mils of clear, some of which is no doubt sanded off in the finishing process.

At this point that the manager joked and asked "hey, what are you trying to do, start your own shop and get all our trade secrets?" I laughed and told him "no way, you can keep this work...it's too much of a pain in the ass". He knowingly laughed and nodded in agreement. While body shops are essential to the functioning of the automotive industry running a body shop is pretty much the very last thing I'd ever want to do with my time on this earth. Combine the dirty work, inherently toxic materials that are ever increasing in price and declining in quality due to environmental regulations, stingy insurance companies, bitchy customers that demand perfection yet don't want to pay what that costs, and wrap it all up with a laundry list of local permitting and environmental headaches and you have a recipe for ulcers. No fucking thank you.

The shop had disconnected the battery as a matter of course and I forgot to grab the radio lock code before I left, so while I wound up making the long drive home without music the car provided its own entertainment. Without the rear seats or spare tire cover installed the interior amplified all of the exhaust and tire noise from the rear end, including the accidental tire squeal as I pulled away from a light. I had forgotten how easy it was to spin the smaller winter wheels and tires...even on dry pavement.

I was also reminded of a potential issue in the rear end -- an occasional clanking noise which was significantly muffled with the interior installed. I intentionally drove the left and right wheels over imperfections in the road in an attempt to determine if the problem was specific to one side of the vehicle. The noise appeared to be coming from the driver's side but I'm familiar with the manner in which reflections can play tricks on the human ear so that's no guarantee. The shocks (and more specifically, the mounts) are approaching their replacement interval so they are the most likely cause. I have new endlinks and a swaybar to install as well, so I may wind up installing those parts and see what happens.

If you're interested in more detail I took a short video showing the results of the restoration.

Paint Protection Film Research

For those who are no doubt wondering whether I'll wrap the car with a paint protection film, the answer is likely "no", for a couple reasons.

Price. This is the kind of thing you want installed by someone who knows what they're doing and I know of one installer about an hour away that qualifies. But the quote I received from him left me wondering about the economics of that industry. If it costs nearly as much, if not more, to apply protection film as it does to paint the corresponding panels, and the film is expected to be replaced every 5-10 years, what's the point? Sure, the original paint is protected against the occasional rock hit, but dings and dents happen too, and the only way you're fixing those is with good-old-fashioned body work and (the kicker) replacement of the film.

Here are some of the quotes. I don't think any of these quotes overlap each other so they can probably be taken at face value.

That's a good portion of my new leather interior right there. Needless to say, after paying a tidy sum for the paint work I'm not exactly inclined to spend this kind of cash on what I view as a product for obscenely wealthy people suffering from OCD. That said, I'll probably purchase pre-packaged films for the glass lenses of the fog lights and the euro ellipsoids as no one makes (or more to the point, sells) replacement glass lenses for those anymore and they're not cheap to replace.

Timing. According to my body shop the car's new urethane can withstand washing and waxing, but may lift in the event protection film is applied and then must be taken off for some reason (installation error or otherwise). The shop added that most of the companies that install films won't touch a newly painted car for at least 30 days for this reason. That takes me well into November and I have other plans.

Mileage: 252525